© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO) http://newsflash.org  | NOVEMBER 18 -19, 2015


EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

By Emeterio Barcelon: APEC WISHES


NOVEMBER 19 -By Emeterio Barcelon There are many costs to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference but they are out weighed by the benefits. Our turn in 20 years will cost some R10 million without counting the costs that cannot be counted in terms of pesos; all the traffic, the flights cancelled, the disruption of life in Metro Manila, and many other inconveniences. So what are the benefits? They better be good. We could have some wishes like better cooperation among the countries that surround the Pacific Ocean. There are two other organizations. One is the organized Asia Pacific Free Trade Area (APFTA) to which we do no belong. Then there is ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations of which we were one of the founders. Both in the APEC and APFTA we are small fish in a big ocean in which there are big fish. In the ASEAN we are all in about the same situation. We are a grouping that could help each other. Many of the agreements are coming into effectiveness only this year, 2015. We should not lose this opportunity to help each other and make the most of our proximity. Besides cooperation we could expect investment and tourism income from our APEC partners since this is a combination of governments and business leaders of the member of this association. We could also expect discussion of climate change and territorial integrity, drugs and narcotics control, and the fight against terrorism in the world. Besides friendship and cooperation we need to explore possibilities that are abundant in our area. This brings us to explore business with South America. Historically we had plenty of trade and commerce between us and Mexico, Peru, and Chile. This is almost non-existent at present but there are many complementarities that can be revived with these countries. We are past the age of the galleon trade but we now can look forward to big cargo planes that cross the Pacific Ocean. This brings us to another area which we have not touched which is the Asian part of Russia – Vladivostok and it surrounding area. We already have plenty of trade with China which will increase in the coming years. But through China we have little or no trade and business with Mongolia which is appearing to be a huge resource in the future. READ MORE...

ALSO by Associated Press: Who’s a terrorist? World powers struggle to agree on Syria


NOVEMBER 19 -Syrians sit in a park in the capital Damascus, on November 10, 2015. Plastered on the wall in the background are a large version of the Syrian flag and the flag of the Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement. (Louai Beshara/AFP) Washington, DC, United States — The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran haven’t agreed on much throughout Syria’s bloody civil war. But they will try this weekend to decide which of Syria’s fighting forces are common enemies and which can be included in a transition government with President Bashar Assad. Failure to reach an agreement could leave international peace efforts in tatters. As diplomats return to Vienna for another round of Syria talks on Saturday, they’re grappling with questions that have blocked all previous attempts to forge a ceasefire and usher in a political transition. Other than the Islamic State group, who are the extremists? Who from Syria’s government and opposition should do the negotiating? How long can Assad remain in power? “We face an environment now that bears little resemblance to the kind of black-white scenarios that make decisions relatively easy,’’ US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday in a speech on Syria. “Put simply, there are bad guys all around and good guys who are not accustomed to working with each other.’’ Throughout Syria’s conflict, now in its fifth year, world and regional powers have waged bitter public relations battles over defining the extremists and the freedom fighters, providing military equipment and even directly intervening to support Syria’s opposing camps. Assad’s army is now backed by Iran’s hardline Quds Force and its proxy, Hezbollah, along with Russia. The rebels include Western-backed “moderates’’ and Arab-supported Islamist groups, as well as al-Qaida-linked militias. In the mix is the Islamic State, in principle opposed by all. Over the last couple of weeks, countries have been trading lists of who they consider terrorists. No common understanding has been reached, but some movement has occurred. Kerry and other US officials have tamped down demands for Assad’s quick departure and allowed Iran – whom they call the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism – to join the mediation process. By doing so, Washington has accepted that Tehran can continue wielding influence in Syria, which has helped Iran for decades to project power throughout the Middle East through groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which the US considers terrorist organizations. It’s unclear what the US and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Mideast rival, are getting in return. READ MORE...

ALSO by Floro M. Mercene: SCS, core topic at APEC


NOVEMBER 19 -By Floro Mercene
China made three demands, relayed by its Foreign Secretary Wang Yi during his visit here two week ago to his counterpart, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario. These demands were made so that President Xi Jin Ping could be assured of his attendance in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila. One of the major demands is that the ticklish South China Sea (SCS) issue should not be taken up during the summit. Second, that the administration won’t allow rallies and demonstrations to be held against Xi. And third, that the Philippines should not invite Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou to the table. The last of the demands was supposed to be hush-hush, but it found its way into the newspapers nonetheless. The next day the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website quoted Wang as saying that the arbitration case against China in The Hague “is a knot that has impeded the improvement and development of Sino-Philippine relations” and they do not want this knot to become tighter and tighter, so that it even becomes a dead knot. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) responded by saying, “China’s 9-dash line claim is expansive, excessive, and has no basis under international law, including UNCLOS. If left unchallenged, we could lose about 80 percent of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).” The United States joined the fray as US President Barack Obama said he is set to challenge China when Asia-Pacific leaders gathered in Manila this week. This came two weeks after their missile destroyer and B-52 strategic bombers sailed and flew over the reclaimed islands. The French terror attacks and US attention on the South China Sea showed the demand not to raise the issue was unrealistic. “One cannot separate the economic and the non-economic in today’s interconnected world,” says Curtis S. Chin, a former US ambassador to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, and now an Asia fellow of the Milken Institute, a non-partisan think-tank. THE FULL COLUMN.

ALSO Editorial: Many more rounds ahead in Poe SET & Comelec cases


NOVEMBER 21 -Vying with the APEC Leaders’ Summit for the headlines last Wednesday was the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) decision to reject the disqualification case filed against Sen Grace Poe. “Poe wins Round 1” said one paper. That was right – it was just Round 1 of a fight that will take many rounds before it is over. The SET – which is composed of three Supreme Court (SC) justices and six senators, with the senior justice as chairman – voted 5-4 to reject the petition to disqualify Poe as a senator on the issue of alleged lack of natural-born citizenship. Early in the case, the SET had set aside the residency issue, as the period for filing residency protest cases had already lapsed – and concentrate on the citizenship issue. image: http://www.mb.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Untitled-123-300x267.jpg The SET chairman, Justice Antonio Carpio, made known his view that Poe could not be considered a “natural-born” citizen as her blood parents are unknown. There is no dispute that she is a citizen, but the Constitution specifically requires that one running for the Senate must be “natural-born.” This legal point of view evidently was shared by the three SC justices in the SET. Five of the six senators, however, appear to have decided along more political lines. That was Round 1. There may be a motion for reconsideration but it is not expected to change the voting. The next round will now be in the Supreme Court, to which the SET decision will be appealed. In this Round 2, the decision will be made by 15 justices who are mandated to uphold the Constitution. Then there is Round 3. A petition has been filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), calling on the Comelec to reject her certificate of candidacy for president in May, 2016. The same issue of “natural-born citizenship” is to be decided, along with the residency requirement of 10 years for a presidential candidate. Whatever the Comelec decides, it is bound to be raised to the SC by whichever party loses in the Comelec. READ MORE...

ALSO by Jullie Yap Daza: Love triangle at APEC


 NOVEMBER 20 -Jullie Yap Daza
A love triangle in APEC? Yes, there they were, America, China, the Philippines in a cozy talking-heads type of show on the APEC stage, with Barack Obama (US) playing moderator in a three-way conversation with Jack Ma (China) and Aisa Mejino (Philippines). Aisa who? For Ms. Mejino, an engineer and instructor at De La Salle Batangas, APEC will always be the apex of a dream coming true. She was invited to chat with President Obama and Mr. Ma, not by Manila but by the White House through the US embassy. Such that when she arrived for her date with the leader of the world’s leading economy and China’s second richest man, she could not get past security at the conference venue, until Secret Service agents of POTUS came to her rescue and escorted her inside. The petite Engineer Mejino – not a rock or classical musician, not anyone who would’ve been invited by Malacańang to the gala dinner – is the inventor of a saltwater lamp that does not need batteries or electricity to provide a light to shine in the dark and power to charge a cellphone. When she demonstrated how the lamp works to ABS-CBN reporter Alvin Elchico, it looked like it was made of plastic, as big as an ordinary watermelon. She showed Alvin how to inject the fuel – a cup of water with salt added to it – into the bottom of the lamp and, voila! light brighter than a dozen candles without the flicker. Back at APEC, when Obama the moderator asked what was the next step, she said, “Funding.” At which he gamely pointed a finger at Mr. Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba Group Holding, Ltd. (revenues last year: $12 billion), eliciting applause and approval from their audience. Aisa needs $380,000 to manufacture lamps to make life easier and lighter for rural Filipinos who are still without power, literally and figuratively. Mr. Ma invited Aisa to enrol in his entrepreneurial school in China. If he has committed his company to help her on the financing side, he did not reveal it publicly. After a ringing endorsement from the US president, can the Philippine government do less than stepping up to the plate to bring Aisa’s project to light? THE FULL COLUMN.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

APEC wishes


Emeterio Barcelon Voice from the South He holds numerous post graduate degrees in Business Administration from prestigious US universities. He was a professor at the Asian Institute of Management and Senior Fellow of Development Academy of the Philippines. Became Rector and President of Ateneo de Davao University in 1974 and was assigned to Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro to become its Academic Vice-President and later Vice President for Special Projects.

MANILA, NOVEMBER 23, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN)  by Emeterio Barcelon November 19, 2015 - There are many costs to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference but they are out weighed by the benefits. Our turn in 20 years will cost some R10 million without counting the costs that cannot be counted in terms of pesos; all the traffic, the flights cancelled, the disruption of life in Metro Manila, and many other inconveniences. So what are the benefits? They better be good. We could have some wishes like better cooperation among the countries that surround the Pacific Ocean.

There are two other organizations. One is the organized Asia Pacific Free Trade Area (APFTA) to which we do no belong. Then there is ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations of which we were one of the founders. Both in the APEC and APFTA we are small fish in a big ocean in which there are big fish. In the ASEAN we are all in about the same situation. We are a grouping that could help each other. Many of the agreements are coming into effectiveness only this year, 2015. We should not lose this opportunity to help each other and make the most of our proximity.

Besides cooperation we could expect investment and tourism income from our APEC partners since this is a combination of governments and business leaders of the member of this association. We could also expect discussion of climate change and territorial integrity, drugs and narcotics control, and the fight against terrorism in the world. Besides friendship and cooperation we need to explore possibilities that are abundant in our area. This brings us to explore business with South America.

Historically we had plenty of trade and commerce between us and Mexico, Peru, and Chile. This is almost non-existent at present but there are many complementarities that can be revived with these countries. We are past the age of the galleon trade but we now can look forward to big cargo planes that cross the Pacific Ocean.

This brings us to another area which we have not touched which is the Asian part of Russia – Vladivostok and it surrounding area. We already have plenty of trade with China which will increase in the coming years. But through China we have little or no trade and business with Mongolia which is appearing to be a huge resource in the future.

READ MORE...

There are precautions that we have to take such as making sure to follow up the agreements that are made and the possibilities brought up in this conference and the other is to keep our eyes open for even more possibilities. One of the themes of this APEC conference is equality for all. That no one will be left behind. In this we have to work still a great deal in our hunger situation, our job creation, and peace in the southern Island of Mindanao. This APEC meeting should put a push to resolve these problems and opportunities and then it will be worthwhile for all the trouble we have for hosting this APEC conference.

Again the caution is that we should keep an eye on ASEAN. Free trade is critical component of these associations and it is up to each one to grab the opened opportunities.

Here is to the safety and success of the APEC conference now being held in Manila. May the Lord bless us all and allow us to make the most of our opportunities.

<emeterio_barcelon@yahoo.com >


Who’s a terrorist? World powers struggle to agree on Syria by AP November 19, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share1


Syrians sit in a park in the capital Damascus, on November 10, 2015. Plastered on the wall in the background are a large version of the Syrian flag and the flag of the Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement. (Louai Beshara/AFP)

Washington, DC, United States — The United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran haven’t agreed on much throughout Syria’s bloody civil war.

But they will try this weekend to decide which of Syria’s fighting forces are common enemies and which can be included in a transition government with President Bashar Assad.

Failure to reach an agreement could leave international peace efforts in tatters.

As diplomats return to Vienna for another round of Syria talks on Saturday, they’re grappling with questions that have blocked all previous attempts to forge a ceasefire and usher in a political transition.

Other than the Islamic State group, who are the extremists? Who from Syria’s government and opposition should do the negotiating? How long can Assad remain in power?

“We face an environment now that bears little resemblance to the kind of black-white scenarios that make decisions relatively easy,’’ US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday in a speech on Syria. “Put simply, there are bad guys all around and good guys who are not accustomed to working with each other.’’

Throughout Syria’s conflict, now in its fifth year, world and regional powers have waged bitter public relations battles over defining the extremists and the freedom fighters, providing military equipment and even directly intervening to support Syria’s opposing camps.

Assad’s army is now backed by Iran’s hardline Quds Force and its proxy, Hezbollah, along with Russia. The rebels include Western-backed “moderates’’ and Arab-supported Islamist groups, as well as al-Qaida-linked militias. In the mix is the Islamic State, in principle opposed by all.

Over the last couple of weeks, countries have been trading lists of who they consider terrorists. No common understanding has been reached, but some movement has occurred.

Kerry and other US officials have tamped down demands for Assad’s quick departure and allowed Iran – whom they call the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism – to join the mediation process.

By doing so, Washington has accepted that Tehran can continue wielding influence in Syria, which has helped Iran for decades to project power throughout the Middle East through groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which the US considers terrorist organizations. It’s unclear what the US and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Mideast rival, are getting in return.

READ MORE...

A draft Russian settlement leaked this week says the UN Security Council would endorse the fight against the Islamic State, but that nations must still “agree on the additional list of terrorist groups.’’ These groups wouldn’t be covered by a ceasefire.


VOICE OF AMERICA FILE - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seen delivering a speech in Damascus.

Assad has bombed militants and civilians alike, labelling almost anyone who opposes him a terrorist. Western nations say the Russians have mainly bombed moderate forces as part of its “counterterrorism’’ campaign. Even the US and its allies disagree: Whereas Washington avoids the more Islamist opposition militias like Ahrar ash-Sham, Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar readily back them.

More than 250,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war. Eleven million have been uprooted from their homes. The conflict has allowed Islamic State militants to carve out significant parts of Syria and Iraq for their would-be caliphate. Europe and Syria’s neighbors, meanwhile, are struggling to cope with the worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The US says Assad forfeited the ability to lead Syria in the long term, while the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia wants him toppled as part of a proxy war with Shiite Iran. Russia is ambiguous about Assad’s long-term future, carefully safeguarding its longstanding security relationship.

Just getting all countries to the table is proving difficult. On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry angrily criticized the composition of a set of working groups designed to hammer out agreements on fighting terrorism, identify opposition figures for inclusion in transition talks and ease Syria’s dire humanitarian situation.

The UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has told colleagues that one idea involves avoiding the “terrorist’’ label for groups agreeing to the truce; holdouts would be fair game.

Such a formula puts a far greater onus on the US and its partners. Russia and Iran would only need to convince Assad to stop fighting. The United States and allies would have to contend with a multitude of fighting forces with competing ideologies and interests, all jockeying for position in a post-conflict Syria.


SCS, core topic at APEC by Floro M. Mercene November 19, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share8


Merry-Go-Round He was a reporter for the Evening News and the Philippine News Service for ten years. He did a stint as a copy editor of the Agence France Presse news agency for two years. He quit journalism to join government service, first as press officer of the Philippine Tourist and Travel Association and the Board of Travel and Tourist Industry. He was later appointed director for public relations and information of the Department of Tourism.

China made three demands, relayed by its Foreign Secretary Wang Yi during his visit here two week ago to his counterpart, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario.

These demands were made so that President Xi Jin Ping could be assured of his attendance in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila.

One of the major demands is that the ticklish South China Sea (SCS) issue should not be taken up during the summit. Second, that the administration won’t allow rallies and demonstrations to be held against Xi. And third, that the Philippines should not invite Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou to the table.

The last of the demands was supposed to be hush-hush, but it found its way into the newspapers nonetheless.

The next day the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website quoted Wang as saying that the arbitration case against China in The Hague “is a knot that has impeded the improvement and development of Sino-Philippine relations” and they do not want this knot to become tighter and tighter, so that it even becomes a dead knot.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) responded by saying, “China’s 9-dash line claim is expansive, excessive, and has no basis under international law, including UNCLOS. If left unchallenged, we could lose about 80 percent of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”

The United States joined the fray as US President Barack Obama said he is set to challenge China when Asia-Pacific leaders gathered in Manila this week. This came two weeks after their missile destroyer and B-52 strategic bombers sailed and flew over the reclaimed islands.

The French terror attacks and US attention on the South China Sea showed the demand not to raise the issue was unrealistic.

“One cannot separate the economic and the non-economic in today’s interconnected world,” says Curtis S. Chin, a former US ambassador to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, and now an Asia fellow of the Milken Institute, a non-partisan think-tank.


Editorial: Many more rounds ahead in Poe SET & Comelec cases November 21, 2015 Share0 Tweet2 Share0 Email0 Share14

Vying with the APEC Leaders’ Summit for the headlines last Wednesday was the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) decision to reject the disqualification case filed against Sen Grace Poe. “Poe wins Round 1” said one paper. That was right – it was just Round 1 of a fight that will take many rounds before it is over.

The SET – which is composed of three Supreme Court (SC) justices and six senators, with the senior justice as chairman – voted 5-4 to reject the petition to disqualify Poe as a senator on the issue of alleged lack of natural-born citizenship. Early in the case, the SET had set aside the residency issue, as the period for filing residency protest cases had already lapsed – and concentrate on the citizenship issue.


NO UNANIMOUS VOTE. Of the 6 senators in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, only Senator Nancy Binay votes to disqualify Grace Poe as senator of the Philippines.

The SET chairman, Justice Antonio Carpio, made known his view that Poe could not be considered a “natural-born” citizen as her blood parents are unknown. There is no dispute that she is a citizen, but the Constitution specifically requires that one running for the Senate must be “natural-born.” This legal point of view evidently was shared by the three SC justices in the SET. Five of the six senators, however, appear to have decided along more political lines.

That was Round 1. There may be a motion for reconsideration but it is not expected to change the voting. The next round will now be in the Supreme Court, to which the SET decision will be appealed. In this Round 2, the decision will be made by 15 justices who are mandated to uphold the Constitution.

Then there is Round 3. A petition has been filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), calling on the Comelec to reject her certificate of candidacy for president in May, 2016. The same issue of “natural-born citizenship” is to be decided, along with the residency requirement of 10 years for a presidential candidate. Whatever the Comelec decides, it is bound to be raised to the SC by whichever party loses in the Comelec.

READ MORE...

Ultimately, therefore, it will all be decided by the SC which is concerned with legal and constitutional – rather than political – considerations. There are those, however, who hope that all these rounds will take many months. And that, meanwhile, in the absence of a final decision, Senator Poe will remain a candidate and be voted upon in the May presidential election. If she wins, they hope, it will be “vox populi, vox dei” – the voice of the people is the voice of God.

Against this hope is the legal point of the Poe disqualification issue – that there happens to be a constitutional provision that only a “natural-born citizen” may be elected president or senator or representative. It may be unjust that an upright citizen like Senator Poe should be barred from holding high positions in the government, but that constitutional provision is there.

There are truly many more rounds ahead in this political battle and we hope that we will not let it unduly divide us. We must be able to find a solution that is just and, at the same time, maintains the legal and constitutional framework of our republic.


Love triangle by Jullie Yap Daza November 20, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share7


 Jullie Yap Daza

A love triangle in APEC? Yes, there they were, America, China, the Philippines in a cozy talking-heads type of show on the APEC stage, with Barack Obama (US) playing moderator in a three-way conversation with Jack Ma (China) and Aisa Mejino (Philippines).

Aisa who? For Ms. Mejino, an engineer and instructor at De La Salle Batangas, APEC will always be the apex of a dream coming true. She was invited to chat with President Obama and Mr. Ma, not by Manila but by the White House through the US embassy. Such that when she arrived for her date with the leader of the world’s leading economy and China’s second richest man, she could not get past security at the conference venue, until Secret Service agents of POTUS came to her rescue and escorted her inside.


NOVEMBER 18 -US president Barack Obama, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and Aisa Mijeno
A Filipina who co-founded Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALT), a company that makes innovative lamps powered by saltwater, was thrust into the global limelight at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit on Wednesday as a great example of a young entrepreneur using technology to solve everyday problems.
FROM INQUIRER APEC BUSINESS NEWS

The petite Engineer Mejino – not a rock or classical musician, not anyone who would’ve been invited by Malacańang to the gala dinner – is the inventor of a saltwater lamp that does not need batteries or electricity to provide a light to shine in the dark and power to charge a cellphone. When she demonstrated how the lamp works to ABS-CBN reporter Alvin Elchico, it looked like it was made of plastic, as big as an ordinary watermelon. She showed Alvin how to inject the fuel – a cup of water with salt added to it – into the bottom of the lamp and, voila! light brighter than a dozen candles without the flicker.


APEC spotlight: Pinay who created lamp that runs on saltwater.

Back at APEC, when Obama the moderator asked what was the next step, she said, “Funding.” At which he gamely pointed a finger at Mr. Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba Group Holding, Ltd. (revenues last year: $12 billion), eliciting applause and approval from their audience. Aisa needs $380,000 to manufacture lamps to make life easier and lighter for rural Filipinos who are still without power, literally and figuratively.

Mr. Ma invited Aisa to enrol in his entrepreneurial school in China. If he has committed his company to help her on the financing side, he did not reveal it publicly. After a ringing endorsement from the US president, can the Philippine government do less than stepping up to the plate to bring Aisa’s project to light?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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